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High Quality Backlinks Rise and Fall with Sites Providing Them

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Website managers who emphasize search engine optimization know that finding high quality backlinks is like finding a pot of gold.

Search engines love those kinds of links because they represent a vote in favor of the site getting the link.

That vote has become more important than ever because the rise of “nofollow” links has resulted in many sites losing the “link juice” that the links provide.

“Nofollow” means the search engines shouldn’t follow the link and as a result shouldn’t look on it with any favor. The vote is gone.

That leaves far fewer opportunities to find (or build) high quality backlinks from friendly sites, related blogs, article sites and other sites that still allow “dofollow” in one form or another.

It’s important to note that the value of the backlink is based in part on two factors — the page where the link resides and the site where the page resides.

Quality Page Links

Comparing two extreme types of pages will help explain why the quality of the page makes a difference in the value of a backlink.

Page A has a 150-word brief about a dated, widely covered and unimportant topic. It doesn’t have an author or any citations. The content is sloppily written and contains grammatical errors.

The typical visitor to that page, if one actually finds it, will take a quick look and leave again. He or she won’t share it with anyone via social sites because there is nothing worth sharing. The engagement rate is nearly non-existent.

It has 20 links, many of them going to low quality sites in addition to a link to your site.

Page B has about 1,500 words about an important topic. It has citations and good grammar written by someone with a reputation in that particular field. It also has photos, graphics, comments and possibly a poll that all encourage interaction.

The numerous visitors to the page often share it via social media, which encourages more people to come, view it and share it. The engagement rate is exceptionally high.

It has only one backlink near the top, and that link goes to your site.

Not surprisingly, a link on Page B is much more valuable than a link on Page A. But that’s not quite enough.

Quality Site Links

Changes in search engine algorithms have had a substantial impact on many sites over time.

When these sites contain backlinks, the value of those links will rise and fall with the site despite the value and importance of the page containing the link.

One of the better known examples in recent years was

EA was a leader in the concept of article directories. At its peak, EA had more than two million unique visitors a month. It tapped — at the time — a key variable in getting strong search engine rankings, which was a steady stream of fresh content.

So marketers would write an article for the site and put a couple of links on it (as a rule EA allowed only two self-serving links). The articles would get visitors, some of whom would click on the links.

The site receiving the backlinks would get two benefits:

1) Visitors coming to it from EA.

2) Link juice from EA that would boost its search rankings.

Unfortunately, article directories became the victims of spammers who would dump low-quality articles on them. The credibility of such sites began to decline, and search engines started downgrading them.

Traffic plummeted, and so did the value of the backlinks those sites provided. Sites like EA barely exist anymore.

Lessons Learned

A fairly common term in the industry is “backlink profile”, essentially a picture of the quantity, quality and distribution of backlinks.

What the changes above show is the important of not relying on a small set of pages or just a few sites to generate backlinks and link value.

The goal of any site marketer should be to find a wide variety of backlinks from a wide variety of sites. Site marketers also should review existing links periodically to see if they show any errors. An email to a site with a bad link may result in a fix, which is an easy way to get a fresh and accurate link.

Sometimes painfully, marketers should expect some of those backlinks to decline in value or even vanish altogether in the constantly changing online environment.

That’s why it is important to focus on building high quality backlinks as a constant practice instead of a one-time effort.

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